We were at the airport. I’d spent most of the night crying — and most of the night before that.
The day of — the day he got on the plane — had passed by in a blur of suitcase zips, suitcase unzips, stray socks, rain and hand squeezes.
The airport was too hot, too full, time ticking by too quickly. And suddenly the rhythm of the day, the mindless tasks, the grumbles and the swallowed words, had led up to this point.
Everything else became white noise and it was time to say goodbye. It was only once he started to walk away, that I began to crumble.
I know that many, many couples have found themselves standing in my shoes, but for military couples, this is an all-too-familiar family portrait.
The goodbyes, the tears. The few moments of absolute helplessness.
I know what you may have been thinking, but no: this particular picture wasn’t a deployment. It was snapshot of my relationship before the marriage and the military.
By the time my husband and I married, we’d spent less time together than we had apart, on separate continents.
I’ve written about our relationship before — how we met, dated, and said goodbye, all within ten months. I’ve also written about the time we spent apart. I will never, ever forget how difficult it was, nor will I forget how difficult every single goodbye was.
I’m aware that it’s impossible to truly liken a deployment to any other obstacle in a relationship, but admittedly, I’m grateful now that we spent so long in a long-distance relationship.
The very least I can proffer is that all the time we spent apart before has prepared me — never completely, but certainly in several ways — for future deployments.